Post-War Blues

By the 1940s and 1950s blues had become very popular in clubs and bars all around the country. Blues was also beginning to incorporate the sound of electronic, amplified instruments, mainly the guitar, and figures such as T-Bone Walker and B.B. King pioneered this newer form of electric blues. T-Bone Walker especially, was known for developing a heavier sound where he cranked the amplifier to the point of the sound beganning to clip, creating a dirtier, distorted tone which is now synonymous with blues guitar. During this period, New Orleans and Chicago were instrumental to furthering the sound of blues, producing many blues recordings that were important progenitors to pop, R&B, and rock and roll styles. New Orleans blues was more polished sounding and commonly used piano, guitar, and saxophone. 

Some of the biggest artists to emerge from the scene included Professor Longhair, who experienced a major hit with Mardi Gras in New Orleans (1949), Guitar Slim, Snooks Eaglin and Bo Diddley. Chicago blues is another urban blues style that followed on from the tradition of Delta blues and developed in the mid-20th century. It emphasises the heavier, dirty sound of overdriven guitars and so was very influential on later rock styles. A major pioneer of the sound was Muddy Waters when he moved to Chicago in the 40s to join Big Bill Broonzy. They were joined by artists such as Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf and John Lee Hooker who all helped massively popularise the style and influence British blues acts in the 50s and 60s. 

Notable artists:

T-Bone Walker

B.B. King

Buddy Guy

Professor Longhair

Guitar Slim

Bo Diddley

Muddy Waters

Willie Dixon

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